STINA BLACKSTENIUS broke Manchester City’s resistance as Arsenal bounced back from a 0-0 WSL draw to reach the Conti Cup final.
The striker’s bundled effort thwarted City’s hopes of league cup glory in back-to-back seasons as her side sealed a 1-0 win.
It saw Jonas Eidevall’s side reach their first cup final under the head coach with a chance of a first piece of silverware on the horizon this term.
They clinched victory in the first duel of their double header with the Citizens with the teams set for battle in the WSL at the Academy Stadium on Saturday.
Tomorrow night will see the Irons take on Emma Hayes side who were beaten by the Citizens in last year’s final.
Before tonight’s clash, City boss Gareth Taylor said reaching this term’s Conti cup decider could be a catalyst for the season.
It appeared to be the case for his side as they pressed their hosts high early on.
Gunners goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo, who put in a solid performance, was forced to push Chloe Kelly’s fourth minute cross away from goal.
But Arsenal grew into the game quickly with Lotte Wubben-Moy and Rafaelle nullifying the scoring threat posed by Khadija Shaw
And Laura Wienroither tested Sandy MacIver after a swift counter following Kelly’s cross, forcing a reflex save from the Man City keeper.
It was end-to-end stuff at times in the first half with Kelly’s low shot, after a cut inside, claimed,by D’Angelo.
In the 27th minute Shaw half-volleyed an effort wide after a Hemp cross.
Some lovely trickery saw Hemp whip the ball around Wienroither before teeing up Kelly who blazed it over the bar.
And the City forward ended up picking the first of seven yellow cards shown to players by referee Abigail Byrne after clipping Katie McCabe’s heel.
Close to half-time Arsenal had one of their best chances of the first spell.
This came in the 37th minute with Foord, slightly off balance hitting the woodwork after Kathrine Kuhl’s pass from the edge box.
And Kelly received some words of warning from the ref after catching McCabe on the shin with the duo vying for the ball.
The second spell saw Arsenal up the ante in attack with Lina Hurtig and Stina Blackstenius coming on for Victoria Pelova and Kuhl in the 65th minute.
It was a tactical change that proved decisive with Hurtig hitting the crossbar moments later and heading wide with 15 minutes of normal time left.
Some injury-time chaos ensued when MacIver spilled the ball with City managing to clear before Blackstenius to get a toe on it
But the striker eventually broke the deadlock in the 93rd minute.
She did so by forcing the ball over the line after Frida Maanum won possession with Hurtig later teeing up her Swedish compatriot.
Extra time saw Taylor have a last throw of the dice bringing on Laura Coombs for Kerstin Casparij
And Mary Fowler came on for Filippa Angeldahl after the Swede forced D’Angelo to tip her shot around the post.
But the hosts held out to claim a result that could pave their way to their first Conti Cup win since 2018.